If you watched the Season 2 finale of “Boardwalk Empire" in December 2011, you were likely shocked that they killed off James "Jimmy" Darmody - and that actor Michael Pitt would have to find a new gig.
You might have cursed at your screen, and lost faith in the HBO drama altogether. If you're like me, you might have even vowed never to tune in again. So much for that.
What a difference a year, new characters and some awesome storylines can make. Sunday’s Season 3 finale promises to be one of the most exciting yet, and we have to tip our hats to the "Boardwalk" team and HBO for keeping us hooked despite our early skepticism. How did they do it? Here are the moments, characters and stories that kept us watching:
Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rossetti
With lines like, “Everything of mine is bigger than Nucky’s,” and some of most gruesome murders since the “Sopranos,” “Boardwalk’s” new villain has been the perfect fit to a series that needed a legit baddie to give the action a boost. What we love about Gyp is that he’s bad (and borderline insane). From his, um, sexual adventures to the plea for his life in front of Joe Masseria, we’ve grown to fear, laugh at and some times feel sorry for the Italian gangster wreaking most of the havoc in Season 3.
Van Alden aka George Mueller the bootlegger
Michael Shannon is giving one of the performances of his life and he’s doing it with a kind of creepy ease. Never - really - has there been a character viewers wanted to go from good to bad more than this Prohibition agent-turned-possible gangster. The awkward metamorphosis of his character has been a joy to watch.
Richard Harrow’s entire storyline
The man with half a face found love, took care of Jimmy’s son and made us realize that, even on a show where you can’t get attached to any character, it’s hard not to feel your emotions rise and fall with each of his successes, failures and kills. If he kills Gillian Dormody in the finale, he’ll be the fan favorite for sure.
Owen Sleater’s death
Like the death of Jimmy, Owen’s demise caught folks off guard. The charming, sweet-talking Irishmen, who captured the hearts of both Mrs. Thompson and the audience, proved once again that no character is safe, and that we shouldn’t open boxes delivered to our doorstep at 4 a.m.
Vulnerable Nucky Thompson
When the season kicked-off, we saw that Nucky had made the transformation from Atlantic City treasurer (doing seedy business) to full-fledged gangster. Finally, more killing and action from the show’s protagonist, right? Instead, we saw Nucky whipped by Billie Kent, utterly lost and confused after her death and now the biggest guy in AC is on the run from almost everyone but Al Capone.
Nucky had never looked as weak as he did on last’s week’s lead up to the finale. Hell, he was even sweating through his three-piece suit. The fact that Nucky wasn’t The Man, so to speak, this season showed us that story and production are bigger than just one character. And, as viewers, our love for the show wasn’t just confined to the genius of Steve Buscemi.